Sunday, September 13, 2009

Contempt Motions: Document, But Do Not Deviate!

We have discussed before in this Georgia divorce law blog the importance of keeping a diary, or journal, of every time that your worthless spouse, "Sluggo," is mean to you, or does you dirty! Your divorce lawyer can possibly use that information to help you in your divorce. But this same tip also applies to potential contempt actions. In other words, "Young Grasshopper," it is wise for you to keep pen and paper handy AFTER your divorce, too!
Let's assume, for example, that your deadbeat ex, Sluggo, is running behind on making child support payments, or that he has otherwise failed to live up to your settlement agreement. What should you do?
First, you should contact your divorce attorney about filing a contempt action and taking good ole' Sluggo back before the judge.
But the point here is that, when you see your divorce lawyer, it will help if you have kept meticulous records, including dates and occurrences, of all of Sluggo's violations of the settlement agreement, or court order. In addition, in my opinion, you should rarely give permission to Sluggo to deviate from what the judge had ordered. It might be difficult for the judge to hold Sluggo in contempt for violating the order if you have permitted deviations and made his requirements less clearcut.
Finally, in my opinion, if Sluggo pays child support directly to you, then you should generally NEVER accept cash, (or give cash, if you are Sluggo!), in lieu of a check, as payment of child support or any other obligation. Again, the point is that it is important for you to be able to document everything if you must take your ex back to court and, at least in this one context, cash just doesn't cut it! Now, I realize that, in the real world, if you need the cash which Sluggo is waving around to buy groceries or diapers, then you may very well need to take it, but, even then, you should faithfully write down how much he gave you and when. And if ole' Sluggo had a brain, he would demand a written receipt, too!
Every situation is different. Please discuss your situation with your own divorce attorney. But if you ask me, I will generally tell you: Document, document, document...but do not deviate!

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